The Expository Files

Spiritual Guard Duty

While in the Army I was assigned to guard duty a few times and found it to be more than I had imagined. My pre-military perspective was, you get to carry a gun and walk back and forth with authority. I couldn't wait.

Not long after beginning basic training, I learned the truth about guard duty. It involved much more than just walking back and forth with a gun. First, you had to study Field Manual 22-6. You had to know the difference between general orders and special orders; interior and exterior posts. It is necessary to know the Challenge, the Password, the Chain of Command and relief procedure. All this instruction was vital to the discipline of the task, and was far more complex and serious than I realized.

But one lieutenant explained the essence of the work: "The main thing about guard duty is using all your senses to know what is happening at your post." I was assigned guard duty at the motor pool one time and I remember the intensity of trying to watch and listen and be aware of everything in the area. There was a heightened state of alertness required by the task.

Every Christian is on spiritual guard duty. We are charged to be aware of what's happening around us, be alert to danger and prepared to respond. "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love," (1 Cor. 16:13,14).

I must guard my mind against error, selfishness, indifference and every beginning of sin. I must guard my association with people, alert to any pressure to engage in any evil. I must watch my relationships for any opportunity to help people, to teach people and influence people in good things. I have the individual duty to guard against any approach of the enemy, any spiritual danger, any moral corruption or compromise.

We do not carry a rifle, but we are armed with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," (Eph. 6:17). We have no earthly lieutenant we are answerable to, but we are accountable to the "Captain of our salvation," (Heb. 2:10).

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world," (1 Pet. 5:8,9).

"Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." (1 Thess. 5:6-10). {Read also, Rev. 3:3; Mark 14:38; Hab. 2:1; Nahum 2:1}

Are you on duty?

By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 9.6; June 2002